Your life is in shambles. Your wife left you. You have been reduced to giving tours of an abandoned military complex to fat-cat tourists. You hate Will Farrell. If you are Pete then this is your life. Well this was your life until Hamelin’s Revenge brought every stinkin’ corpse back to life with an insatiable urge to consume flesh. This is Entombed.
It has been several months since the disease known as Hamelin’s Revenge decimated the world. Civilization has collapsed and the dead far outnumber the living. The living seek shelter from the roaming zombie hordes, but one-by-one, those shelters are falling.
Twenty-five survivors barricade themselves inside a former military bunker buried deep beneath a luxury hotel. They are safe from the zombies…but are they safe from one another? As supplies run low and despair sets in, each of them will find out just how far they’re willing to go to survive.
The story takes place in the same universe as Keene’s superb novel, Dead Sea but there is no real correlation between the two stories other than setting. The main difference between Dead Sea and Entombed is the scope. Dead Sea played out on several stages with Keene showing us the carnage as the undead ripped through Baltimore and contrasted that with the isolation and hopelessness of the open sea. Entombed only utilizes one setting (and a very small one at that.). The entire claustrophobic story takes place in an abandoned military bunker. The once grand bunker is now a tourist attraction- an afterthought. All of the resources needed to survive have been replaced with props- no food, no weapons and no medicine. The only thing that occupies the bunker is a deteriorating group of shabby humans and a terrible sense of defeat. It is with this in mind that the remaining survivors decide to turn to each for sustenance and survival. They decide to have a lottery, Shirley Jackson style, to determine who will become their first meal. Unfortunately for Pete, he opted to watch a little bit of Aqua Teen Hunger Force in the bunker’s film room instead of attending the lottery and, wouldn’t you believe it, his name was chosen.
Keene takes us on an extreme trip as we begin to see the layers of sanity slowly peel away from Pete’s mind through the first person narrative. Once Pete realizes that he is about to be slaughtered, flayed and consumed, he goes on the offensive. He takes full advantage of the sparse setting and limited tools in an attempt to save his life. There are some truly inventive deaths in the pages of Entombed as Pete uses forklifts, makeshift Molotov cocktails and random tools in his quest for survival. Pete slowly spirals out of control with each killing but it is not overt, oh no, instead Keene takes a very subtle approach. This is where Keene’s talent as a writer comes into the mix. He explores the nuances of insanity. There are a few occasions where Pete hears slightly maniacal laughter before he realizes that the god-awful noise is coming from him. At first he is frightened but he slowly begins to embrace his current mindset. A lesser writer would have flipped the switch in Pete’s mind and, all of the sudden, he is crazy. Lucky for the reader Keene’s Pete is handled with a great deal of precision and has quite a bit in common with King’s Jack Torrence. The insanity feels genuine and, as a result, the character becomes completely frightnening.
Entombed has everything you would expect from a Brian Keene novel- fleeting moments of laughter, buckets of gore and an overbearing sense of despair This is not a lighthearted affair and the reader knows, that no matter what happens inside the bunker, there is no hope because of the undead masses roaming outside. This is really the strength of Entombed. In the back of our minds we know that every atrocity committed within this bunker is , ultimately, meaningless because there is no such thing as a survivor when all of humanity has turned on itself.
Despite the link to an undead world, Entombed is not a zombie novel. It is so much more. Entombed is a story of survival and madness. It examines the darkest nook of the human condition and exposes it for all to see. The story is so frightening because it is so believable. The reader can see themselves being in this same situation and making the same situation. Once again, the we are treated to a tightly told story in which Keene proves, once again, that he is the champion of the genre.
You can catch up with the latest Brian Keene news over at his website.